Johnny Burke – Passed peacefully at home on Sept 21, 2017 in his 78th year. I had the distinct pleasure of meeting him several years ago and did an article for him in my Webhost Magazine on Nov 18/2015. Rest in peace my beautiful Friend
Johnny Burke was born Jean Paul Bourque in the French Acadian community of Rosaireville, New Brunswick, Canada. In the early 60’s Johnny moved to Toronto and immediately began performing in a country/rock group called Johnny and the Bees.
Shortly thereafter he joined another group called the Blue Valley Boys; Johnny’s first professional job. He then landed a gig at the famous Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto and for the next four years backed name artists such as Lefty Frizzell, Tex Ritter, Loretta Lynn, Red Foley, Charley Pride, Stringbean, Dottie West, Mel Tillis, Conway Twitty, Waylon Jennings, Glen Campbell, Bobby Bare and Carl Smith.
When the Country Music Hall, hosted by Carl Smith, began on the CTV national network, Johnny Burke, along with his guitar player, were chosen from the Blue Valley Boys to back Carl on the show. For the next 3 years Johnny played bass on the Country Music Hall and was later invited to appear as a guest artist.
In 1967 Johnny formed the Caribou Showband and for the next seven years hosted a syndicated television show called At The Caribou. In 1972 the Caribou Showband changed it’s name to Eastwind which later became the houseband on the CTV network show The Funny Farm.
Although Johnny and his band spent a great deal of time backing up other name artists, including a seven year engagement on the syndicated Opry North Show, Johnny himself developed a loyal following of fans with his own pure country voice. His hit record Wild Honey was named single of the year in 1978 and his records became top sales items across the country.
Johnny Burke’s vocal style gives the traditional country sound a unique flavour. Few can match his talent for song presentation. He has ‘twang’ and feel and a sincerity that shines through every lyric. The pleasure he derives while performing spills over to his audience and back to the stage. It is always evident that Johnny Burke truly loves to entertain.
1975-Top Country Group/Big Country Awards
1978-Top Country Single “Wild Honey”/ Big Country Awards
1978-Top Instrumental Group/Big Country Awards
1979-Top Instrumental Group/Big Country Awards
2005-Inducted into New Brunswick Country Music Hall of Fame
2012-Inducted into Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame
14 Albums to date of his own (although he has performed on countless others)
Performed on The Grand Ole Opry, Wrap Around Nashville and Nashville Now, Nashville Network